Oct 7, 2014

2006 NL Eastern Champion Mets Pitcher: Darren Oliver (2006)

Darren Christopher Oliver was born on October 6th, 1970 in Kansas City Missouri. He attended high school in Rio Linda California getting drafted by the Texas Rangers in the third round of the 1988 draft.

The six foot two left hander pitched six years in the monies, going 7-5 in 1993 with six save. That got him to the big leagues for a September 1993 call up.

He made the club in 1994 & appeared in 43 games as reliever going 4-0 with two saves. That earned him a spot in the Rangers 1995 staff where he had his best season going 14-6 with 112 strike outs in 173 innings pitched. That year he was third in wins on the first place Rangers staff behind Ken Hill (16 wins) Bobby Witt (16 wins) & Roger Pavlik (15 wins). Oliver posted a high 4.66 ERA that season.

In the ALDS he took a tough 3-2 loss in Game # 3 after pitching into the 9th inning. The next season he was the Rangers top pitched winning 13 games (13-12), pitching 201 innings with 104 strike outs as the team finished third. Oliver spent six years in Texas (1993-1998) before getting traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in July '98 along with Fernando Tatis for Royce Clayton and Todd Stottlemyre. He went 9-9 there as a starting pitcher in 30 games for the 1999 season.

In 2000 he returned to Texas as a free agent, although he had a rough year going 2-9 with a 7.42 ERA in 21 games.

The following season he was 11-11 posting another high ERA at 6.02, as the Rangers finished fourth for the second straight year. By 2002 he started to pitch more into a reliever & over the next few years went to pitch for the Boston Red Sox (2002) Colorado Rockies (2003) Florida Marlins (2004) & Houston Astros (2004).

In 2005 he was injured & only pitched seven games at the minor league level. In January 2006 he was given a chance getting signed to a one year deal with the New York Mets.

He joined a strong bullpen of middle relief that season along with Duaner Sanchez, Pedro Feliciano, Chad Bradford & Aaron Heilman.Oliver made his Mets debut on the fourth game of the season mopping up a 9-3 win over the Florida Marlins. On April 26th he came in to pitch in the 10th inning of a tied game in San Francisco.

He was the winning pitcher when Chris Woodward & Jose Reyes drove in runs to beat the Giants 9-7. On May 23rd Oliver came in the 13th inning in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies & pitched four innings of relief earning another extra inning win.

On June 14th he beat the Phillies again in a three inning relief performance. On July 30th he came in to pitch the bottom of the 8th of a tied game in Atlanta. He closed down the Braves & earned the win as Paul Loduca drove in the games winning run off Ken Ray in the top of the 9th. Oliver was a fine contributor to the '06 NL Eastern Champion Mets team, going 4-1 with three holds, posting a 3.44 ERA in 45 appearances.

Post Season: He appeared in Game #3 of the NLDS at Los Angeles against the Dodgers, pitching in relief of Steve Trachsel.

Although the Mets won the game finishing off the Dodgers in a series sweep, Oliver allowed three runs in the fourth & fifth innings giving him a series ERA of 20.25.

In the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals he relieved Steve Trachsel in Game #3 after he had allowed five runs. Oliver mopped up by pitching six scoreless innings of work in the Met loss. The Mets let him go to free agency after the season & it was the wrong choice. Looking back it was amazing how such a strong 2006 bullpen fell apart over the next few years.

Oliver went to the post season every year since leaving New York through 2011. He first signed with the Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles in 2007 going 3-1 there in 61 appearances.

In 2008 he was one of the games best middle relievers going 7-1 with 12 holds & a 2.88 ERA for the first place Angels. In 2009 he returned to top form go 5-1 with 20 holds posting a 2.71 ERA in 63 appearances.

In the ALDS he was the winning pitcher of record in Game #3 at Fenway Park as the Angels scored three runs in the top of the 9th to beat the Red Sox. He then appeared in five games, allowing three runs over five innings of the ALCS against the AL New York team.

Oliver went back to his old team, the Texas Rangers in 2010, who were now one of the best teams in baseball. There he got to another post season winning an AL pennant & going to his first World Series. In 64 appearances he went 1-2 with 14 holds.

In the post season he pitched three games of the ALDS against the Tampa Rays, then saw action in three games of ALCS where he earned a save in Game #4.

In the 2010 World Series against the San Francisco Giants Oliver made two appearances, allowing a run in 2.2 innings of work.

In 2011 he went 5-5 with Texas posting a 2.29 ERA in 61 appearances getting to another post season. He remained busy out of Ron Washington's bullpen, appearing in two games of the ALDS against the Tampa Rays & three games of the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers.

In the World Series he was the winning pitcher in Game #5 after benefiting from Mike Napoli's two run 8th inning double. Oliver appeared in three World Series games, as the Rangers were disappointed by losing to the St. Louis Cardinals.

In 2012 at age 41, Oliver pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays posting another solid year with an ERA under two, going 3-3 with a pair of saves. He returned for his last season in 2013 to go 3-4 with a 3.86 ERA in 50 appearances.

In a twenty year career Oliver was  118-98 with seven saves. He struck out 1259 batters, while walking 720 in 1915 innings of work. He posted a 4.52 ERA making 766 appearances.

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